Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Musicians' Humour

Selected jokes of Sri Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar and other stalwarts which I enjoyed. These are from the Internet. You need to know Tamil or Malayalam for enjoying the sense of humour.

Kind Courtesy:

At a concert at Shanmukhananda Hall in Bombay, a member of the audience asked Chembai if he could sing a song on Bombay. Chembai, with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes, said he could. He went on to sing "aadu paambe, vilayaadu paambe" [ஆடு பாம்பே விளையாடு பாம்பே.]
[In Tamil the word 'Bombay' is written as 'Paambay' the meaning of which is 'O Snake!' The meaning has no importance here but its similarity in pronunciation.]

In another concert, Chembai wanted the organizers to keep the microphone nearer. Finding that the microphone cable (wire) was too short, he said "namma vayaru thaan perisa irukku" [நம்ம வயறு தான் பெரிசா இருக்கு] "Only my vayaru (belly - வயறு) is big".

In his concerts he never failed to sing Vaataapi ganapatim (Hamsadhvani), Raghuvara nannu (Pantuvarali) and Sri-Balasubrahmanya (Bilahari). When someone asked him why he repeated these compositions he replied -- "It is because each one of these compositions has fetched me lakhs of rupees."

Parveen Sultana's first concert in Madras was another occasion for a quip. Chembai, who was asked to preside on the occasion and "speak a few words", made just this observation: "I don't know much about Hindustani music. But this I know: I have a good 'saareeram' and the lady here has both good 'saareeram' and 'sareeram." The second was a reference to Parveen's attractive appearance.
[saareeram (சாரீரம்) means voice and sareeram (சரீரம்) is body.]

And this happened at another Academy concert. Chembai saw Musiri Subramania lyer and Semmangudi Srinivasa lyer, their heads covered possibly to hide their identities, slinking away quietly. He quipped, with that openness for which he was noted: "Oi, Sangeeta Kalaanidhis! You're welcome to go. There is no need to cover your heads!" 

Chembai was singing a Thyagaraja Kriti in Useni which went "Rama ninne nammi nanu nijamukha Sita ... Rama ninne ...". His accompanists for the day were Lalgudi Jayaraman on the Violin and Umayalapuram Sivaraman on the Mrdangam. In a flash Chembai substituted the word "Sita" with "Jaya" and repeated the line again with "Siva", thus Jayaraman and Sivaraman had their names mentioned. The predominantly Malayali audience were highly amused when they realized the import of the whole sentence ("Jayarama and Sivarama, I depend on you.")

Kind Courtesy:

M. S. Gopalakrishnan, Violinist, was accompanying Viswanatha Iyer (or perhaps Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar). As MSG usually does he went to the upper octave and even higher, the vocalist remarked "pAtthu Gopala, romba mela pohAdey. Bridge irukku, keezha vizhunduda poraai" (Careful, Gopaala, don't go too high. There's the bridge - on the violin - you might fall off!). [பாத்து கோபாலா, ரொம்ப மேல போகாதே. பிரிட்ஜ் இருக்கு, கீழ விழுந்துடப் போறாய்.]

After a wedding reception performance by the late Shri. Ariyakkudi Ramanuja Iyengar, the groom's father told the music legend: Your recital now is much superior to what you sang last year. Ariyakkudi replied "Ivvidam paattu appidiye dhaan irukku. Avvidam dhaan jnaanam konjam vandhirukku. Adhanaal dhaan appidi theriyaradhu." [இவ்விடம் பாட்டு அப்படியே தான் இருக்கு. அவ்விடம் தான் ஞானம் கொஞ்சம் வந்திருக்கு. அதனால் தான் அப்பிடித் தெரியறது.]

Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar was another artiste with a keen sense of humour. He appeared on the stage normally dressed in veshthi, banian, jibba, angavastram. During one particular music festival, he progressively discarded the banian, angavastram and jibba. Wrote Subbudu, "At this rate, I would hesitate to attend Chembai's next concert because I won't know how he will turn up." The great singer had a big laugh over the write up!

Q: How do you take revenge on an enemy?
A: Buy his children each a drum.

Q: How do you know when a mrdangist is knocking at your door?
A: The knocking always speeds up.

Q: What do cricket and Carnatic music have in common?
A: In both, the pitch is important.

Q:What's the difference between Lalgudi Jayaraman and Mahatma Gandhi?
A: One's a violinist and the other is a non-violinist!

Q: What does a vidwan sing at the end of a really long concert?

A: Jaavali (ஜாவளி-jaw-vali = Jaw pain)

Rasikar: Unga todi todu maatiri azhakagavum alangaaramaagavum irukku.
Ariyakkudi: Kaadula pottundaa sari. ... [உங்க தோடி தோடு மாதிரி அழகாகவும் ஆலம்காரமாகவும் இருக்கு. ... காதுல போட்டுண்டா ஸரி.]

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